welcome to al jazeera america. i'm morgan radford, and here's are the stories right now. ariel sharon, one of the israel's greatest generals and strongest leaders has died, and hundreds of thousands of west virginia residents are still without water after thursday's toxic chemical spill. it's been 50 years since the surgeon general warned the public that smoking kills, but still, health advocates say more needs to be done. word came early this morning that the former prime minister of israel, ariel sharon, has
died. the decorated ex-general and controversial leader left a mark on the middle east. after a stroke and eight years in a coma, sharon passed away in a tel aviv hospital at the age of 85. nick is in jerusalem and joins us now live. nick, in a very telling statement, one of sharon's sons told reporters outside of the tel aviv hospital that he decided to go when he decided to go. sharon is widely regarded as doing things on his time and in his terms. why exactly was he so polarizing, and why is his legacy so complex? >> reporter: yeah, morgan, just to give you a sense, what a lot of people called sharon was king ark after his original first name. a lot called him a murderer and bulldozer. there was nobody here who didn't care about his legacy and about the things he did not only in israel but an entire region and
not only over the last few years but for the last half century. it was a moment that defined everything he stood for. in 2000 in jerusalem, ariel sharon walked through the mra. >> and the mosque. >> it was not a provocation. >> but a provocation is exactly what it was. he asserted israeli claims over space arabs find sacred. his visit triggered outrage and the second palestinian uprising, but the violence it helped spark propelled him to election as prime minister. it proved once again that the brash, bull-headed sharon did what he wanted, seized land he desired and nobody dared stop him. as much as anyone in the last 50 years, sharon helped define the israeli state. many israelis loved him for it. many others despised him. first, he was a successful soldier. his campaigns redrew the state's
borders. in 1967 he won one of the most sensational battles in the six-day war. israel suddenly doubled in size. in 1973, as a battlefield general, his leadership prevented almost certain defeat in the yom kippur war. in 1982 as defense minister he led the invasion of lebanon. after the victory, he ordered his forces to stand by as the lebanese fighters that he was supporting slaughtered hundreds if not thousands of palestinian refugees. it should have been the end of his career. he had to resign, and an israeli commission of inquiry found him indirectly responsible, but sharon survived and eventually returned to power as a right-wing politician. he helped to create the political party that currently leads israel and mast minded the modern settlement movement. illegal and controversial, he saw settlements in the west bank
as bullwork against arab neighbors he never trusted. >> all those communities we just built in judah, the golan heights, they're not an obstacle to peace but war. >> reporter: for sharon there was no greater obstacle than long-time nemesis yasser arafat. for decades he targeted the leader. he forced arafat into exile to leb nan. when he was president, sharon went to his compound. arafat has a prisoner inside his own home and in the end left without ever seeing the palestinian state that sharon fought so hard against. >> one must understand we speak about a murderer. he's a murderer. a pathological liar. >> reporter: sharon always promised israel security and always took the long-term view.
in 2001 during a wave of suicide bomb attacks, sharon chose separation. he ordered the construction of a massive wall. it ghettoized some of the west bank, took land palestinians called their own and once again redefined israel's borders. >> i believe and understand peace, but the first thing and most important one is to bring security for the citizens of israel. >> reporter: when he decided that security meant removing settlers from the gaza strip, the father of the settlement movement withstood heavy resistance. once again, sharon did what he wanted with land israel seized. he was on his way to being re-elected prime minister, but in 2006 he suffered a massive stroke. he was brought by ambulance to this hospital and never woke up. always polarized, sharon was seen by many as the sign of israeli strength. others saw the symbol of israeli cruelty, but as one writer put
it, his story became israel's story, and today's israel is sharon's israel. that polarization continues in sharon's death. just to give you a sense of some of the statements that have come out. let me read one from hamas, the group that runs the gaza strip. they are calling sharon, quote, a criminal whose hands were smeared with the blood of our people. and israeli president peres, one of the people who worked with sharon since the beginning of the state saying quite the opposite. one of israel's great protectors and most important architects who knew no fear and certainly never feared his vision. that gives you a sense of what we're going to talk about. this man's incredible legacy for better or worse over the next couple of days. >> from criminal to fierce protector, that's quite the wide range there, nick. sharon once said, i can talk and look in the eyes of the citizens of israel and convince them to make painful compromises. nick, what were some of those
painful compromises? >> reporter: yeah. i think it's a great quote, because it really goes to the heart of what sharon was able to do toward the end of his life. it was kind of a nixon in china moment. he had the capacity to tell everyone in the country, look, you need to listen to me. i've been fighting for you for 50 years, for 60 years. i'm one of the most aggressive commanders you've ever seen and one of the most successful, aggressive tacticians that israel has ever seen. therefore, when i say we need to pull out the settlements, then you need to listen to me. he was able to convince people to pull those settlements out of the gaza strip. that was very unpopular before he started a campaign to do it. he convinced the majority of the country to do it. therefore, by the time he pulled it out, the majority of the country supported him. he did the same thing in the northern west bank. there's a lot of talk now about what he might have done and what he could have done had he survived that stroke and gone on to be re-elected against as prment. there's no telling, of course. what he was able to do is say to
the israeli public i fought for you, bled for you and almost died on the battlefield, therefore, you have to listen to me when it comes to secure security. >> nick, he's been in a vegetative state since his stroke eight years ago. in a sense, had israelis already said their good-byes to him? >> reporter: i think a lot of people have said their good-byes in israel. a lot of palestinians have also said their good-byes and spat on his picture. one of finance ministers here said it very well, i thought, this evening. he said, look, sharon has lived and died twice. the finance minister called sharon a young savage and gentle old man. he said he died twice as well, once eight years ago and again today. that gives you a sense of yes, people have said good-bye already, but there's to doubt his legacy is so endearing and vital for this country for good and bad that people will talk about him for the days and
months and years to come. >> a legacy we're still unpacking. nick, thank you for being with us this morning. >> world leaders are reacting to sharon's death, and president obama expressed his sympathy saying michelle and i send our deepest condolences to the family of former israeli prime minister ariel sharon and to the people of israel who lost a leader who dedicated his life to the state of israel. we continue to strive for lasting peace and security for the people of israel including through our commitment to the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security. united nations secretary-general ban ki-moon offered his condolences as well saying ariel sharon was a hero to his people first as a soldier and statesman. sharon will be remembered for his political courage and determination. the secretary-general is calling on israel to build on the late prime minister's legacy of pragmaticism to work toward the lodge overdue achievement of an independent and viable palestinian state next to a
secure israel. british prime minister cameron paid tribute this morning saying, quote, ariel sharon is one of the most significant figures in israeli history. he took brave and controversial decisions in pursuit of peace. joining me now to discuss a leader some say was a man of many contradictions is chuck frilich, who is a senior fellow at the harvard kennedy school. how would you characterize his leadership style? >> i think sharon was first and foremost a man of contradictions throughout his life. he was, first of all, an ardent defender of israel's security. a man who contributed to it enormously and who always emphasized the importance of israel being able to defend itself solely by itself. he was also very much a leading example of what's known in israel as the activist or the doer school of thought. it's a school of thought which
did not have a lot of patience for deep, intellectual thinking, for what they would call fill local fiezing. it was about going out and doing things and tackling problems head-on. he was very pragmatic. he was a great tactician and at times maybe a very good short-term strategist but not a long-term thinker or grand strategist. that's probably one of the reasons that led him to times in some of the errors he made. finally i would say he really was a man of polar opposites. he was a man who was known throughout much of his career as being an aggressive general, but he was also a man as prime minister who made some of the more major steps towards peace. he was a man who was a founder of the settler movement and one of the driving forces behind it. again in his later years as prime minister came to the conclusion that it no long served israel's purposes.
so he, as your correspondent mentioned before, dismantled all the settlements in gaza and four in the west bank as well, which was supposed to be a sign of his willingness to go further into the west bank into the context of a final peace agreement. he really was left and right and it's hard to put him in any one category. >> i want to stay on gaza for a minute. for arabs throughout, ariel sharon's name is synonymous with violence. can you compare this with his later policies reaching towards peace? >> i think for most of his life he was a general and then he was a defense minister. his focus was on defense issues. i think he also developed in his thinking the situation, of course, changed over decades and as prime minister he came to a new appreciation of the situation of the new situation and the unilateral withdrawal from gaza, which was a dramatic step towards peace. no one at the time expected
israel would do anything of that magnitude. nothing similar to it at all. the world was quite stunned at the time. now, we don't know what he would have done afterwards, had he lived, had he stayed prime minister. he was talking or at least signalling about his willingness to go take a major step in the west bank as well. >> at one point he went so far as to say he wished he'd killed the palestinian leader, yasser arafat. he's been described as arafat's nemesis. can you describe a little bit more about their relationship? >> they viewed each other as arch enemies, and i think with good reason. he has the blood of thousands of israelis on his hands and he was an arch terrorist for the palestinians and he was the head of their national movement. he certainly wasn't viewed that way in israel and much of the way, and spent much of his life
trying to find him. on various occasions israel did try to assassinate him. in the end, though, i think sharon with his legacy as prime minister was a legacy of a man of peace. >> charles from the harvard kennedy school of fwovt, thank you for being with us this afternoon. still ahead on al jazeera america, the crisis in west virginia, 300,000 people without water to drink, cook or shower. a half century since the warnings on the dangers of cigarette smoking. we look at how effectively the historic caution saved lives. revealing... and surprising talks... with the most interesting people of our time... >> as an artist you have the right to fail... that's a big right to have >> his work is known across the globe. but little is known about the gorilla artist behind the glasses... we turned the camera on the photographer shaking up the art world. >> 2... 1... that's scary jr...
>> every sunday night al jazeera america presents the best documentaries. a historic election >> we have 47% of our people who pay no income taxes... >> we take you behind the scenes >> i'm rick santorum, i'm running for president... >> no barriers... >> i intend to be the nominee that defeats barack obama >> no restrictions... >> i think we're catching on... >> no filters... >> my guess is they won't be voting for me... >> al jazeera america presents caucus 300,000 people in west virginia are still waiting to hear when they can turn on their tap again. a toxic chemical used to clean coal tainted the public water supply when it spilled in a river on thursday. fema is sending more than 2.5 million gallons of clean water
there. jonathan martin is in west virginia. >> reporter: help continues to come in from fema and homeland security. they've stationed 12 tankers across the region where people can fill up canisters. a lot have come back multiple times because they don't know how long the water crisis will last. this came to light, this problem came to light early on thursday when the company freedom industries notified authorities here in the state that a chemical from one of their storage tanks was leaking right into the elk river. around that same time people started to report a strange odor. they say it was like the smell of licorice or a sweet candy. officials with the health department tested the water and found it was this chemical mchm. the health department says it can cause vomiting, eye irritation or diarrhea. at this point the health department and water department are trying to flush out of the system and are adding different chemicals to the water to oxidize it. right now there's no time frame
as to when the water will be safe for people to drink. at the same time there's a federal investigation going on into this company, freedom industries. the federal government wants to know exactly how this leak happened, and they also want to know when it happened and when the state was notified. >> that was jonathan martin from charleston, west virginia. 50 years ago ashtrays were practically on every table and snowing was even endorsed in cartoons. then the country's most senior doctor told america that smoking kills. we look at what's changed since that stunning revelation. >> reporter: it was 1964 when the u.s. surgeon general, luther terry, released his landmark report. it concluded that smoking causes illness and death. the news was not well-received, especially by the big u.s. tobacco companies. in the 1960s it was one of the most profitable industries in the world, hiring celebrities and even doctors to promote the
enjoyment and even safety of the cigarettes. >> more doctors smoke camels than any other cigarette. >> reporter: the surgeon general's report on smoking and health led the u.s. congress to require warning labels on tobacco products, and eventually it imposed tighter restrictions on advertising. it was part of the most successful public health campaigns in the united states. smoking rates are now down 59%. back in 1964, 42% of u.s. adults were smoking compared to just 18% in 2012. the government tobacco control efforts, which include taxes on cigarettes and bans on smoking in public spaces, have helped to save as many as 8 million lives. >> in the past half-century nothing else has come close to this contribution to the health of americans. nothing. >> reporter: anti-smoking advocates argue there's still much more work to be done. they say the number of americans
smoking may have dropped over the decades, but globally that's not the case. this anti-smoking campaigner says in the last century 100 million people have died from tobacco use across the globe. he says until big tobacco companies are restrained, that number is expected to rise to 1 billion smoking deaths this century, particularly in low and middle income countries. >> the tobacco industry is carefully, meticulously and consciously targeting the populations in those countries. everywhere we go, we see the kind of marketing in low and middle income countries that hasn't been allowed in the united states, europe, and other wealthy nations for decades. >> reporter: even in the u.s., he says, more than 3,000 children still try their first cigarette every day. it's a trend he says will only be reversed through even stricter anti-smoking legislation and public health campaigns like the one started back in 1964.
al jazeera, washington. >> earlier i spoke to the acting surgeon general and he joined us from arlington national cemetery. >> on january 11, 1964 there was the first report on smoking. as you know, over the last half-century, the world has changed completely when it comes to tobacco use and attitudes towards smoking. >> how many lives have anti-smoking measures saved since 1964? >> it's interesting. first and foremost, over the last 50 years we've lost 20 million lives. 20 million lives to this totally preventible disease, smoking-related diseases. ultimately we had reports over the same time span, because of tobacco control measures, we've actually saved 8 million lives. so there's a good news and bad news story. the good news is we're making headway in this last half century. we've gone from a 43% smoking
prevalence in the united states in american adults to now roughly 18% of americans smoke. that's great news. however, we still lose half a million americans each and every year to smoking-related diseases. i as acting surgeon general make this an important public health mission to deal with this as a real and current problem. it's great to look back at the laurels, the successes of the last half-century, but we have important public health work to do still. >> you mentioned how preventible this is. in spite of how far the country has come, the nation's top four leading causes of death are often linked to smoking. we're talking about heart disease, cancer, lung ailments and stroke. what work does the u.s. still have to do in order to curb tobacco use? >> well, we have plenty of work to be done, and again, at the 50th commemoration first and foremost, i want to start at a personal level. we have 40 million americans that still smoke. each of us, although we may not
be smokers, we may know people who smoke. today, january 11th, at this important 50th commemoration is the day to reach out to loved ones that are smokers and appeal to them. this is preventible. first and foremost, lesson number one to be learned is it's never too late to stop. the whole idea of stopping automatically brings health benefits. secondly, we have to treat this as an addiction. this is an addiction to a chemical, a terrible chemical called nicotine. it is difficult to stop smoking, so we have to be there as supporters of individuals to stop smoking. ultimately, in the big picture, there's various approaches to be taken as part of our tobacco control program. first and foremost, our policies. we all know there's smoke-free policies, tobacco-free policies. very important. we know media campaigns are really important. we need to make sure we get the message out about smoking and about how bad it is for health. next, we have to have limitations and restrictions on
smoking and cigarettes, especially to youth. finally, we have to deal with the issue of pricing of cigarettes. we have to realize that that is an important public health measure as well as in terms of tobacco control. this just in, several media reports announced that alex rodriguez announced the arbitrator reduced his suspension from baseball to one season, 162 games. major league suspended him for 211 games. not playing this year will cost the player $25 million. a-rod says he'll take the decision to a federal judge to have it thrown out. in other news, neiman marcus says its customers are the victims of a security breach by credit card hackers. it announced on friday it's working with the secret service to investigate the break-in. word about newman marcus came shortly after target announced the security data breach is bigger than initially reported. it turns out an additional 70 million target customers had their personal information
hello to you and welcome back to al jazeera america. here are the headlines. world leaders are sending their condolences following the death of former israeli prime minister ariel sharon. sharon, decorated ex-general and controversial leader, died this morning in a tel aviv hospital at the age of 85. he'd been in a coma for eight years following a stroke. hundreds of thousands of people in west virginia are still waiting to hear when they can turn on their tap. thursday's chemical spill tainted the public water supply, and now fema is distributing more than 2.5 million gallons of clean water. it's the 50th anniversary of
that famous surgeon general report that linked cigarettes to lung cancer, drastically changing the smoking culture right here in the united states. hi, i'm meteorologist ebony dion. a wet weekend in store for at least the first half across the eastern u.s. i have rain i'm tracking in the southeast as well as a few thunderstorms that prompted severe thunderstorm warning and a tornado watch newly issued across the carolinas. that's in effect until 6:00 p.m. local time. we can see the threat of isolated tornadoes as the evening wears on. we're dealing with rain through the eastern u.s., it's been quite active into the northwest as well. that's because we have a storm system that's moving in, and, of course, that steady flow of mujahedin in off the pacific is gives us rain around seattle and we have snow in the higher elevations. across the eastern u.s., we are dealing with rain and it's all
thanks to the southerly flow helping to warm it up. temperatures are mild enough to support all rain. we're dealing with temperatures as warm as the mid-50s around new york city. now, our winds are going to be an issue as well. it's wet and windy here. we have winds on the order of 25 to 30 miles per hour around new york city and albany. we go from the wet east coast into the northwest where this storm similar will move through. it will bring quite of snow into the cascades of washington where snow levels will lower down to about 2,000 feet. we could end up with two feet of snow here. elsewhere we can see 2 to 3 feet of snow into the higher elevations. a number of watches, warnings, and advisories in place, even an avalanche warning into parts of utah for the mountainous areas. you need to be extra careful traveling across the western u.s. thank you for watching "al jazeera america." i'm morgan radford, and "the stream" is up next.
for news updates throughout the day, head over to aljazeera.com. i'm liss sa fletcher and you're in the stream. billions in untraceable donations and cholera. we talk to haitians four years after the earthquake that devastated their country. my colleague and typically behind the scenes digital guru omar is joining me tonight for our digital producer on set. >> always fun to do this. >> our community is really keying into the fact that all of this money has been donated, but there really isn't a